Real Freedom

As a young Artist in the 90’s and with the emergence of super star Artists like Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, one of my biggest dreams was the opportunity to get picked up like they did by one of the big comic companies at the time. I would go into these countless daydream sessions where I saw myself drawing Wolverine or Batman professionally and my adoring fans cheering me on. Ahhh. The innocence of being young and clueless.

As companies like Image comics gained unprecedented ground in the industry and I got more and more into Indy comics, those dreams shifted and now I no longer desired to work with the big 2 only, but I desired to be able to eventually branch out and draw my very own creator owned comic series for a living. Spoiler alert, non of those 2 things happened the way I hoped they would.

Yet it’s never too late to realize your dreams right? After all, look around and you’ll find countless stories of creators who at their 30’s and 40’s have been able to break into comics professionally. It’s not impossible. But it’s not something I crave the way I used to when I was young and willing and ready (at least in my mind) to conquer the world.

What does 40+ year old me want now that I’ve had time to age like fine wine?

Freedom. Plain and simple.

A sketch of Frank Rain for one of the pages of the first book

I just want to write and draw comics. The comics I want to write and draw. Sure, it’s nice to have a contract with a major company to draw one or two of their big titles. That’s awesome. But that’s not freedom. And I don’t say this as a criticism against anyone in that position. So please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. Anyone in that position is there through hard work. And I mean hard work, because comics isn’t an easy industry to be in. So I’m in no way undermining or belittling any comics professional.

But even they will tell you that having that contract, well, let’s be realistic. Having that contract means that you are now working for a company and you have to play by said companies rules. Having that contract means that, while you’re working in the field you’ve always dreamed of working in and doing what you love the most, you’re not really free to do what you want.

This is why a lot of professional artists who have worked in this industry for years eventually move on to the creator owned arena. Not only to work on their ideas, but to have 1. Control and 2. Freedom

As I move forward with work on my own creator owned book, I find myself weighing the pros and cons of working with a publisher. Sure, there are tons of publishers out there that will pick up your book and let you go to town. The 2 publishers I have in mind are a great example.

Here’s the thing though, if any one of those 2 publishers decides to carry my project to print I will be a happy camper. But what does it mean, or what will it mean if they don’t? Well, I’m hoping that if they decide against it I will at least get a reason why. Was the story confusing? Was it boring? Was the story good but the genre is not something you’re currently looking for?

Whatever the reason(s) I can either give up and move on to another project or I can be stubborn and go at it on my own. This is the power of Indy comics. The ability to move forward despite what a publisher may think about your work. There are probably a good deal of stories of creators who were shot down by publishers yet they decided to go at it on their own only to find success. Some major success. Others, while not success at super star levels, it’s still success.

I don’t mean any disrespect to the publishers I will eventually submit my book to, but being honest, I don’t see it as a privilege or honor to have them look at my book and decide. I see it as me extending an opportunity to them. Because in the end, if they pick up my book, great, if not, well, too bad. The book(s) are getting published either way.

That’s real freedom. The freedom to tell a publisher this is my idea and I’m inviting you along with me on this journey. Not the other way around. I’m inviting you to partner with me. I’m trusting my baby under your umbrella. I have you in such high regards that I’m knocking on your door to ask if you’d like to come along with me on this ride. If in the end, they decide it’s not in their best interest to do so, no hard feelings. We’ll catch up again on my next project. But I will have not lost or gained anything because in the end, I will have freedom on my side.

Thanks for reading!

Published by Eric Merced

Illustrator, Designer, Comic book Artist, Cartoonist.

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